Day 154 Stalking the Wild Cat’s Claw

Wild Edibles[odDec 8


Click on this picture to read more about this very interesting plant.

On the beach near our campspot I ran into a strange vine. I first noticed the pods because one grabbed me around the ankle. It was a very imprssive beast with some very sharp claws.

Had I known at the time I could eat both the seeds and ochre like pod I would have been able to cook them up with the trigger fish. I thought it looked pretty tasty but I’m not one to eat unidentified vegetation without someone else try it first.  At the time I was more interested in collecting the odd pod heads for my sister. She has her own eccentricities and while I eat the plants I find along side the sidewalk she makes them into sculpture.

Apparently the seeds that spring out of the pod (above) are nutty and sweet and the fruit (below) can be steamed or fried like orca.  This plant has a long and valued history with the native people who used the fruit and seeds for food and the fibers of the plant for weaving.


I’ve been interested in what you can eat off the ground since I was a toddler when the ‘5 second rule’ became established protocol. That behavior was supported when as a pre-teen when I discovered the recipes from Euell Gibbons, Stalking the Wild Asparagus  

I admit it. I’ve always been a geek.

In highschool I made acorn muffins, cattail stew (the plant not the animial) and yellow birch tea and as an adult I’ve finally graduated from stalking organisms from the plant to the animal kingdom.  Today I caught and ate my first fish. Ok, so I didn’t actually catch it, Nickel did… and well ok she didn’t actually catch it. Basically I haven’t graduated from  scavenging to the hunting yet.


There was a storm out in the Gulf last night and the high tide came in fast and furious. The next day when the poodles and I hit the beach for our morning constitutional, we found quite a number of marine animals washed up on shore. You’ll be happy to know it wasn’t the pacific grebe or gull that we collected for supper but a freshly beached fish. I guess we’ve come up in the world! There were a number of species to choose from, there were several porcupine fish, a cornonet fish and a trigger fish. The triggerfish was still alive so I threw it back into the water. Sadly despite it’s weak attempts to swim away, the tide kept bringing it back in. One final time and Nickel decided that throwing away good food was just not acceptable and went in to retrieve it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I realize the poor thing was doomed and I decided that I might as well see whether all those filleted triggerfish I’d found on the beach in Loreto would lived up to their apparent reputation so I bagged it. I hate totell you, but it wasn’t quite dead and I didn’t’ know what to do about it. I decided the most merciful thing was to kill it outright so I hit it in the head with a rock.



Fine Scale Triggerfish, Balistes polylepis

Of course I didn’t have internet access to guide me along in this new culinary endeavor, but having seen enough  triggerfish on the beaches in Loreto, I at least knew they were edible and had an idea about where to begin. filleted

dinnerI’ve never fillet a fish before but I’ve watched enough So-You-Want-To-Humiliate-Yourself-Trying -o-Cook Reality TV shows that I felt confident in giving it a try. Now that I’ve watched this YouTube clip, I realize where I first went wrong and I shouldn’t have removed the skin before cutting the meat off the bones, but at least I had the basic area of the fish properly dissected out. diner4I didn’t actually end up with two fillets, more like trigger tartar, but I did ended up with enough fish for dinner although most of the prime meat went into the boiling pot for the poodles. I’m always satisfied when everything can be used so I boiled the entire fish for the dogs . dinner2I suppose I felt a strangesense of responsibility in making sure this fish’s death was meaningful and worthwhile.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt least that’s what TinTin was telling me.

…………………………………………………………Tomorrow we go snorkeling

Es Esto…. #3

Es esto un Pez Erizo Pecoso

If you guessed a porcupine fish…. You were RIGHT!


One of Mother Nature’s practical jokes

You might think that the poodles’ mom didn’t want us being eaten because of all those spines but it’s not just that. Some of us carry a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin. is 1200x more potent than cyanide.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about this fish. I found that many sources were mistaken by saying that the porcupine fish is the same as a puffer, burrfish, blowfish and or ballonfish by basing their criteria on the fact that they puff-up when frightened . In fact they are all related, coming from the same family, but they are not one in the same. I wont go into great detail about what sets these fish apart but I will give you links so you can explore for yourself.

I found these three to be the best sources:


 So how did I come to the conclusion that these were porcupines and not puffers, blow, burr, box, globe, balloon or hedgehog fish? It came down to two last identifying features:

  1. “unlike the pufferfishes, they have only a single plate of fused teeth in each of the upper and lower jaws.”
  2. “The porcupinefish is larger than the balloonfish, with a wider head, and has small black spots that cover the body and fins. The skin of the balloonfish is dominated by larger spots or dark blotches that occur only on the body, not on the fins.”

 Who knew?!

Porcupine fish are also related to our old friend the trigger fish


The story behind this picture coming soon….

and the enormous Sunfish that can grow up to over 5000 pounds!


Click here to read more about this gigantic fish

They all coming from the same order:  Tetraodontiformes

Porcupine fish are considered catch-and-release for obvious reasons


Fishing without rod at sunrise

Que Es Esta #2

Shark attack (ed)


There are  small shark heads littered along the beach near Loreto, a sad example of non-sustainable fishing methods.  Mexico has leased out fishing in the Sea of Cortez to the Japanese a huge consumer of shark products.  As I always interject, however, we need to look at our own consumption of these products before criticizing to vehemently.


A tasty snack




 If you can guess this without any more clues I’ll give you a million dollars….   

Shall I give you a few hints?  These were left over from harvesting other parts of the animal and the poodles LOVED to gobble them up.  We found them on the beach near Los Amigos Playa where the coastal water was thick with seagrass.





Apparently, unlike the reckless harvesting of sharks, there are certain groups in Mexico who are trying to control the collection of these animals for consumption.  They are highly prized by local Peoples and often seen as delicacies in restaurants.  Perhaps you need a visual hint…..







seapenalthough not commonly seen on the backs of poodles, this gives you a nice perspective of its size.

¿Que Es Esta?……


A parting shot of wild beach poodles wresting over a shark’s head



It’s eat or be eaten around here!


Esta Es #1……


Nope, sorry.  I’m not a Stingray (although there are plenty of those around here too)


Classic Baja Stingray

My tail:


A Stingray tail:

stingray tail stingtail

But you’re saying…. I didn’t think you were a Sting Ray! Any idiot can tell that. Just look at the Stingray’s head.

If you thought I was a Manta Ray…. wrong again

The identifying feature is my mouth.  I am a Mobulas Ray (Una Móbulas).  My mouth is subterminal rather than terminal.  This just means in fancy-science-talk that my mouth is underneath and a Manta’s mouth is in the front.  Here’s a picture of a Manta Ray.  Click the picture to read more about ME… not the Manta.


You can see some really cool footage of others like me jumping through the Sea of Cortez click the image below:



and you can see a video and read a little story by Robbie Gonzalez by clicking this pictures:xc7ci4ptuxmgy3nd0brz

So…. ready for the next

      ¿Que Es Esto?

 Stay tuned……







Day 149-150 Que Es Esta?

Still in Loreto

Jan 3-4


I conceded and gave Nickel my wallet…. after emptying it of pesos course. You’d be surprise at what she’s inclined to buying.


Nickel carrying her wallet while watching Pelicans. Maybe she thought their beaks were big pocketbooks and she was going to give them some change.

Our first walk of the day was to the Marina which is a very nice walk along the harbor amongst with several large bronze statues; a Whale Shark and several Sea Lions, lines of fishing boats and dozens of Pelicans, Boobies, Gulls and terns taking advantage of the easy capture of fish in shallow waters.  Nickel was absolutely engaged with the Pelicans as they plummeted and crashed into the water.  I was worried at one point she might just follow a few into the bay.  Once again we were met by people asking questions about the dogs and children wanting to say hello.  Of course this was Eureka’s favorite part.loreto-marina

Later, the poodles and I scavenged along the shore north of Loreto and came up with some interesting creatures (at least parts of them) to research.  I thought it would be fun to post pictures and let you guess what they might be.  This might be too  much for the squeamish so be forewarned.

We’ll call the game…..

¿Que Es Esto(a)….. What is This?

Hints will be given as you go down the page and answer will be posted the following day.

¿QUE ES ESTA?stingrayhip This is my pelvis.  The poodles have decided this is the best thing on the beach to eat.  Their mom says it’s a good source of mucopolysaccharides, proteins, collagen, calcium, suffer, glucosamine and chondroitin.  Who cares.  The poodles say it tastes Grrrr-8!

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What’s your guess?








You might have thought I was a shark but you’re wrong.  This is my tail.  

Think you know????

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Nope, not a funny mask but that is my mouth.

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Have you guessed what I am yet?  Don’t be too sure!  ………….  

Tell us! What’s your best guess?

Day 147-148 Flotsam and Jetsam

Beach Combing

 January 1-2


The poodle girls and I spent the last two days walking the city and treasure hunting on the beach.  While I’ve indulged my inquisitiveness by looking for tiny shells, the poodles have discovered the joy of vertebrate and invertebrate dining. There’s a large number of these washed up on the beach and my thought is that they’re probably discards from fishing nets. There are quite a few trigger fish that have been filleted

trigger2 triggerbut I’ve also seen lots of stingrays, sharks, puffer and a whole slew of others creatures. Due to the dry desert air most of the remains are desiccated. For some reason, of all the tasty treats to choose from, Nickel prefers the puffers.wpufferOf course I can’t let her have those due to their long spines and potential toxicity, and besides, there are plenty of rays and sharks to go around. I figured it’s a great source of glucosamine and chondroitin so I let them chow down.



I was very pleasantly surprised to see such a clean beach. It was void of the usual plastic bottles and bags although littered with a plethora of seashells, fish fragments and other ocean tidbits; plenty to keep us all busy for a few days.  It’s not like what I saw last week when we drove from the central desert to Santa Rosalita and the shock I felt viewing the beach as we drove into town.  Sadly, Rosalie isn’t alone and probably represents many beaches across the world that are situate near industrial areas (this beach was north of town and near a mine).  And let’s face it!  My being here is contributes to the garbage issue: I’m also part of the problem. I mean, really, just the number of dog poop bags alone could tip the scales!  Never-the-less it was a shock to my system to witness after glimpsing the cobalt blue sea on the horizon as we approached the Sea of Cortex and my fantasizing about white sandy beaches.  I’m happy to say that the flip side of this is the effort I’ve seen by the local people to pick up, clean up and recycle.  The message is getting through.  In Guerraro Negro I drove out to a spit of land and saw what seemed to be a school project (since most of the people appeared to be in their teens) of a dozen or more people with large white bags picking up garbage along side the road.

Sometimes I have conflicting emotions about being a wealthy american barging my way through poorer and/or struggling countries but I think this is an example of a positive impact tourism can make (at least for the environment).


So back to Loreto…   I was warned by the campground owner not to walk the dogs up the beach due to some very large mean dogs so we walked south. Aside from one or two people, we never saw anyone and we were able to walk for miles.  It is a fairly rocky beach, which was perfect for me.  The days have been in the 70’s with wild wind to keep us cool and the surf rough…. bringing in all kinds of exciting things to discover.

 I’ll leave you with a few fish faces


Parrot Fish


? yellow fin?

and Nickel wanting demanding…..MORE!


♣”There’s a simple mnemonic that helps distinguish flotsam from jetsam. Flotsam (or floatsome) are those items which are floating as a consequence of the action of the sea. Jetsam are those which have been jettisoned by a ship’s crew (although that may float too of course).”♣

 Click here to read a little more about the origin of Flotsam and Jetsam